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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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The Oregon school board at a meeting on April 7 voted to eliminate three of six central office administrative positions in a continuing bid to cut costs in the financially strapped district.

The positions that are being eliminated include special education supervisor, technology director, and testing coordinator. The positions of assistant superintendent, director of student services, and curriculum director will be reorganized or consolidated.

“I appreciate the board’s support with their approval of the recommendations tonight to restructure our central office administrative staff,” Superintendent Dr. Mike Zalar said at the meeting.

“I want the public to know that this is a significant change in our operations. Essentially we’ll be going from six central office administrative functions to three. That’s a 50-percent reduction and that’s significant,” said Zalar.

Those responsibilities will be absorbed by other school personnel, he said.

“We’ll still be able to cover all those various duties, but it’s going to mean that people are taking on more responsibility. The job descriptions have to be reworked. Some of those administrative functions are going to be delegated down into the teaching areas, and it’s going to require that they work very closely together as a staff and as a district. I feel very confident that we can make this work, and that the net result from the savings is going to be monies and resources that can then be redistributed back to the classroom,” said Zalar.

The district will save between $300,000 and $400,000 by eliminating the positions, said Zalar.

“That’s what I want people to understand. Because of the savings that we’re going to be able to capture, primarily from this particular restructuring of our central office staff, those monies now can be realized at the building and classroom level,” he said. “A case in point is some of the positions that we’ve been able to restore as a result of not only this, but the additional level of retirements that the district has been able to approve towards the end of the year. Those are things that were not anticipated to occur at the time we did our reduction plans. So all these things are working together to help the district become more cost effective, and help us to again allocate those resources at the most basic level where teaching and learning really are happening in the classroom and building levels.”

Jane Fruth, the district’s treasurer, said the district will be receiving less in state foundation funds next year because it is considered a wealthier district based on valuation per pupil.

“Because we’re a wealthy valuation district, we’re actually losing 1.8-percent, which amounts to $155,000 next year,” she said.

The following year, state foundation funds will increase by 1.5-percent, she said.

“Our funding will actually be lower than it was this year because we lost 1.8 percent the year before. So you can pretty much count on a flat line for basic aid for Oregon City Schools,” she said.

Property valuations divided by the number of students in a district determine the value per pupil and wealth of a district, explained Fruth.

The district will lose 17-percent of its budget as a result of House Bill 66, she said. House Bill 66, passed by the Ohio State Legislature in 2005, phased out tax on tangible personal property of general businesses, telephone and telecommunications companies and railroads over a five year period. Districts were reimbursed fully for lost revenue over seven years. But Gov. John Kasich’s proposed biennial budget calls for the acceleration of the phased-out reimbursements, which caught many districts by surprise. The district stands to lose $476,000 per year in reimbursements for eight years, and $776,000 in electric deregulation funds, said Fruth.

In total, the district will lose $1.77 million in revenue next year, she said.

“Right now, this is where we’re at. And I don’t know where we’re headed,” she said.

The district has felt the impact of a $2.8-million cut in operating expenses that went into effect Jan. 5, including the elimination of busing for high school students and a reduction of cleaning services for a combined savings of nearly $1-million annually.

Additional reductions in staffing positions and programs, including the closing of Wynn Elementary School, will provide savings that will be implemented for the 2011-2012 school year.

“The transition from Wynn to Jerusalem continues and it’s going very well. A lot of planning has taken place there,” said Zalar. “They’re planning for a celebration at Wynn as we close that building out this year.”

School officials have met with a representative from the Ohio Department of Education’s transportation division to address the district’s transportation efficiency, said Zalar. “We’re very optimistic that the plan that will be presented will allow the district to continue to operate more efficiently in our transportation plan while maintaining the same level of service that we currently provide,” he said.

Voters defeated two emergency operating levies last year. The district’s five-year forecast projects a $3 million spending deficit for Fiscal Year 2012.

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